Guilt

It’s a wonderful weapon. Mothers and wives have been using guilt as a tool for hundreds of years, because it works…..for a while….but is it really as effective as we think? And does it have any ‘side effects’?

Yes, and yes. It is effective, and it does come with a price.

Women use guilt to manipulate their partners into acting or doing what they want. “ No really, I don\t mind taking your mother to the dentist….you enjoy your golf game….I can mop the floors later, when everyone’s in bed. Lord knows, I don’t need rest….” Mothers use it as leverage. “You’re going to put me in an early grave if you keep this up” or “I don’t want to be a burden”.

I’m quite human, so not above using guilt on my husband. Sometimes it’s the only way to ‘get the message through’, and it does work. I just have to be very selective about when or how I use it, otherwise he’s on to me and the effort is wasted. (Good guilt is a terrible thing to waste) I also have to measure the frequency with which I lay it on. Too often and it loses its’ effect, then he just tunes me out. Too infrequently and he starts to think he’s the perfect husband and I’m lucky to have him, and we can’t have that. (next thing you know he’s bragging about how lucky I was to snare him) Ya gotta nip that one in the bud pronto!

I think it’s safe to say everyone uses guilt at some time or another, and I will acknowledge that more often than not, we use it unconsciously. At least one would hope so because while guilt is something most people see through and can brush off, there are those more sensitive souls who carry the burden of guilt deeply. It affects their mood and happiness because they always feel like they’ve disappointed someone.

Laying too much guilt on someone can weaken their self-esteem, and it brings to question the level of respect the relationship has. If you have to use guilt to leverage your position with someone, you probably don’t have as strong a relationship with them as you think, and if you keep it up, they’ll eventually tire of trying to please you, and give up. Find another strategy.

I would also hazard to guess that guilt is a tool used more by women than men. (God, that really sticks in my craw! Why are women always the heavy? ) In a perfect world men would know what to do without our asking. They would know exactly what to say without prompting. In short, they wouldn’t look liked wounded animals when you lay the guilt on because (if they had the brain of a woman) you wouldn’t need to use it.

But this isn’t a perfect world, and we are not perfect people (men or women) and until such time as we are, I, and probably every living, breathing female, will continue to utilize this valuable tool to get what we want. Just remember to use it responsibly; gauge your intended victim for resilience – make sure they’re the kind who can handle it. Be selective about when you use it (pick your battle) and don’t be too subtle, otherwise your message will go right over their heads and all your effort with be wasted.

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Horror Movies

I don’t particularly like documentaries; too educational for me to relax but I do see the value in a documentary because you learn something you otherwise wouldn’t have, and you usually feel better for the knowledge (even if you nod off half way through) AND a documentary doesn’t usually scare the crap out of you.

Horror movies, books, stories, whatever, on the other hand, are of no benefit. In fact, I’d venture to say these types of ‘entertainment’ are detrimental to society. They give people with warped minds ideas and the next thing you know, there’s a copy-cat on the loose doing God knows what. How does the human mind reconcile the gruesome scenes in a scary movie to a rational, peaceful world?

I’m one of those people who has trouble shaking bad memories. The last scary movie I saw was ‘Halloween’. I had just gotten my drivers license (so yes, I’m a tad over 30…..ish) and wanted to drive, anywhere, because I could. A friend and I took turns picking movies to see and this particular week she chose this horror movie. I wasn’t thrilled with her choice but overcame my apprehension when my father handed me the keys to his Ford Granada. (I was 16 and had a car, how cool is that?)

Suffice it to say the movie really rattled me. After it was over I dropped off my friend and headed home reliving every gory detail of the story in my mind. I turned up the radio and sang, but to no avail, I was scared. When I reached our apartment building I circled for at least twenty minutes because I didn’t have the nerve to go into the underground garage alone. Finally I drove to a nearby service station and called my father. Ten minutes later I picked him up in front of our building (in his pajamas….it was after midnight) and together we drove underground to park the car. He wasn’t angry, much to my relief, but he did kind of grimace when I circled into our parking spot (too quickly) and scraped the drivers side of his car against a concrete pillar that separated our spot from the next. (ok, I was still freaked out by the movie and just wanted to get out of this dark, creepy garage.) When we got out we both looked at what was left of the chrome strip that ran along the length of his car – it was now crunched into a nice ball at the end of the car but at least I didn’t dent the body (if you pulled off that piece of chrome you’d never notice it) I swore off scary movies after this. (ok, ok, I digress)

I guess what I struggle with is how people can be entertained by fear and gore. I just don’t get it but clearly there’s a huge audience because most movies now, even tv shows, have some element of violence; a darker side, and the public love it.

I occasionally watch a show called ‘Elementary’. Excellent writing and fortunately, the gory scenes aren’t viewed, simply implied, but I have to wonder what kind of mind came up with these stories. They are truly dark and disturbed. Even the Bond movies have become darker. No more do you see Roger Moore light a cigarette that inadvertently fires a bullet (silently) into the bad guy leaving no mess, just a crumpled tidy heap on the floor. Now, not only do you hear the bullet, but you witness the torture leading up to it, amidst screams of agony and blood splatter.

At least though, Bond was fictional. I worry about films that glorify actual horrific events. The Boston Strangler, Lizzy Borden, Walking Tall, The Holocaust, 911; all were unimaginable actual events. Weren’t they horrific enough to live through or read about? Do we really need to replay them as ‘entertainment’? I just don’t get it and I worry about a society where people do.

I don’t think I’m weak, squeamish maybe, and I acknowledge that  my discomfort with horror movies stems from my apparent inability to separate reality from the ‘performance’. It appears that what’s unsettling and disturbing to some (me) sends a surge of excitement and an adrenaline rush to others. I will never understand it but I admire your ability to turn off your fear. I do not foresee a time when I will ever be able to stomach entertainment that glorifies the darker side of humanity but  I also know I’m not alone, and until such time as I can (which is never),  I will continue to find my entertainment in a good old toe-tapping musical or replay a comedy show, then…. I will park my car without need of an escort AND I will sleep at night.

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Beauty

Beauty is natural. Don’t mess with it. We all want to look perfect but the reality is we never can, because beauty really is in the eye of the beholder and every ‘beholder’ sees us differently.

Why then, does society put so much emphasis on physical appearance? Every woman aspires to be Barbie, every man, Ken, and when we don’t fit that mold, we go to crazy lengths to change ourselves. I have to admit that women are guiltier of this practice than men, by far; few men go to the trouble and expense women do to change their appearance. Men are however, guilty of putting pressure on women to be beautiful. They openly stare at pretty females, often ignoring the one they’re with. Some whistle, some drool. Locker room conversations revolve around who’s ‘hot’, and no man is willing to go on a blind date until he sees a photo first. She could be the stupidest creature to walk the planet, but if she’s good looking they could easily be persuaded to devote their lives to her cause every guy wants a Babe. The lanky brunette, or the busty blonde; the picture perfect female, and sadly, there’s a host of women in society only too willing to accommodate. A nip here, a tuck there, takes care of any imperfections of the body. Breast enhancement, rump implants (ok, I will NEVER understand this one….who wants a big ass?) and liposuction, lead the way for popular procedures.  Cosmetic surgery is now routine and for several thousand dollars you too can have the perfectly aligned face.

Why are we so eager to create a society of Stepford Wives?  What happened to individuality, but more importantly, why can’t we be happy with what nature gave us? Have we become so superficial that we can only be satisfied with a pretty package? Or is it that we’re so insecure we need to change ourselves to what society wants in order to be accepted?

I recently heard an advertisement for permanent make-up. This is make-up that is tattooed right onto your face. New bold eye brows, red lips, rosy cheeks, and permanent eye shadow (how weird would that look waking up in the morning?) And of course, you have to have the new “Bambi’ eyelashes; 2 inches of lash framing your eyes, yeah, that looks natural. (am I the only one who finds it ironic that we spend money in one place to have body hair removed, then pay someone else to have it glued into our eyelids and scalp?)

Nail salons are everywhere and it used to be for basic manicures and pedicures. Now, ‘nail technicians’ (manicurists are no more) build your nails up with permanent gel, adorned with detailed art work and embedded gem stones. They are square or seriously pointy and often unnaturally long, resembling talons. (how do you pull up your stockings without shredding them?) And if the unnatural appearance doesn’t dissuade you, what about the health risk? Depriving your nail bed of air can permanently damage it. Just google it on the internet – the images are alarming (and ugly)

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m as vain as the next woman. I colour my hair, I wear make-up (that I wash off each night) I paint my nails (my nails, the kind that grow), and yes, I will even admit to occasionally donning industrial strength under garments to ensure any excess of me remains in check, but I draw the line at any type of surgery or procedure that permanently alters my physical body. This is me, and I like me just the way I am. (ok, ok, I’d like to have different hair, longer legs, and sure, there are aspects of my face that I’d fine tune, but I’m not willing to undergo surgery or inject myself with dye to get that change) I figure if you don’t like it, don’t look.

I see something beautiful in everyone I meet. I taught myself that years ago and it was the most liberating feeling because when I stopped seeing what was wrong in another and focused on what was right, I started seeing myself in a different light, and nothing builds up your self esteem like looking into a mirror and appreciating the reflection, in all its’ glory, and with all its’ flaws, because it’s honest, and real. Finding the beauty in others helped me to find the beauty within myself and it’s an exercise I strongly recommend. Maybe they have great hair, or maybe great legs, soleful eyes, or a dazzling smile – everybody has something wonderfully unique and beautiful to gaze at, and once you get in the habit of looking for beauty, you’ll find it is everywhere.

Here’s to loving yourself, just the way you are. I do.beauty

Progress

I am amazed at the progress that has occurred in society, just in my lifetime; progress that made our lives significantly easier….but were these modernizations really good for us?

I can remember my father slaving over our BBQ with lighter fluid, (the scent and flavor of which invariably permeated the food) fanning the charcoal for ages until they turned the uniform shade of white that meant they were ready for cooking, and because of the time and work involved BBQ’s were a rare treat.

With the invention of propane tanks BBQ’s are now almost a daily event in most households from May to September, and now include burners and rotisserie’s for enhanced cooking options. No muss, no fuss, BUT research has shown that grilling on high heat allows carcinogens to form and neither charcoal nor propane is exempt from these risks. Better to just avoid grilling,,,,, or eat raw meat; anything to avoid having to go vegetarian.  (although there is some speculation as to whether or not humans were ever meant to eat meat – we don’t have the teeth of meat-eaters. So how do you suppose it started? Did  a caveman sit down to dinner one day and declare that he wasn’t full enough, so he went out and clubbed some poor unsuspecting pig? And how did it occur to him to cook it? Ahha! I bet this is where the issue of vegetarian teeth came in! Tearing raw meat off the bone wasn’t working so he put it over fire to make it chewable) Ok, I digress.

Microwaves came on the scene which meant warming food was fast and easy, and dirtied no pots. (I could never accept microwaves for actually ‘cooking’ the food because you couldn’t brown anything and it just looks too pale to appreciate) Even popcorn became an instantaneous snack, no more oil and big pots to clean! Sure there’s speculation as to the dangers of radiation from microwaves but in the absence of any glaring issues publicly identified, it seems people believe the benefits still outweigh the risks, and it made cooking faster (and we all know ‘fast’ is what we want, right?)

VCR’s, DVD’s, CD’s, PVR’s, IPODs, IPADS; all came into our lives allowing us to watch what we want, when we want, AND without commercials. Music is available without having to purchase anything by simply keying in your choice on any PC. Good for us. (Not so good for the artists who can’t sell their CD’s) This ‘on demand’ access to anything we want may have made us happy, but it also made us impatient. We are no longer willing to wait for the release of a new song or show; we just download what we want, when we want it.

And if frozen and prepared food wasn’t fast and easy enough, we then made it available as a drive-through so we barely have to lift a finger (or our rears for that matter) In fact, we can do pretty much anything from our vehicle. Drive-through banking, drive-through pharmacy, drive-through beer stores (yeah, there’s a good idea) and if we do decide not to use a drive-through, we can just order whatever we want online and have it delivered to our home. (Mmmmm, have our muscles atrophied yet?)

At a recent gathering where a few young mothers were chatting, I overheard a couple of them declare adamantly that they would only use cloth diapers on their baby (not yet born, so we’ll see) The invention of the disposable diaper was a Godsend and unless a child has an unusual allergic reaction to the material I can’t imagine why anyone would choose to muck around with cloth diapers. (have you any idea how many diapers a baby goes through in a day?) Why don’t these earth mothers  just toss their washer out, then they can take all their laundry down to a nearby river and beat it on a rock. (I’m betting they’ll be on disposables within 12 hours of the kids first poop!) Find something useful to crusade for, like self-cleaning bathrooms, or wine glasses that refill automatically.

I’m all for progress. Technology and ongoing research made some of the more arduous tasks bearable and I will always support the use of disposable diapers, electric stoves, dish washers and air conditioners. I do however, draw the line at the improvements that simply made us sedentary, like drive-throughs. There’s no need.

Lets keep to basics when it comes to family health and wellness. Eat natural foods, even though they take longer to prepare. Get out of the car and go get your groceries, liquor, books, whatever, just move. Allocate your ‘sitting’ time for supper with the family, or story time with the kids, or movie night with friends. We’ve made such great strides to simplify our lives, not to make us lazy. Embrace the inventions that make redundant tasks easier and save the Earthmother heroics (cloth diapers, seriously?) for the things that really matter, like homemade food, fresh air, and quality time with family and friends. Progress is good but I think we need to be a little more discriminating about how and where we apply it.

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Chivalry, is it really dead?

No, but it is moving to extinction.

Gone are the days when a man would open a car door for a lady, tip their hat, stand when a lady enters the room, or cover a puddle with their cloak to allow a lady to walk over it (ok, I’d have a problem with that last one cause with my luck it’d be my husband who does the whole cloak thing, then I’d have to wash it – better she just walk through the puddle,,,,,, She should be wearing boots anyway)

Granted some of these were extreme but it seems even the simplest niceties have gone by the wayside. You will not see a man give up a seat on a bus for a lady anymore. In fact, too often you will not see a man hold a door for the lady behind him either. Why, and when, did we lose our basic sense of consideration for others? Everything seems to have its’ price, even courtesy.

You know, it isn’t limited to just men. I have no problem giving up a seat for a man if he is in need (if he’s not then sorry pal, it’s back to the whole’ first come, first served’ thing) I will, and do, hold a door for the person behind me, male or female, just as a kindness. It isn’t hard, but I fear the upcoming generations don’t see these little niceties as necessary.

At the grocery store recently a produce clerk inadvertently sent a few oranges tumbling from a display and he scrambled to gather them.  A couple rolled under the cart of a woman nearby and rather than stoop to help pick them up, she moved her cart aside and kicked them toward the clerk. Really? How nice.

Rudeness isn’t limited to acts of kindness toward others. It encompasses respect for our surroundings as well. While out walking one day, a car whizzed by and a McDonald’s bag came flying out the window just ahead of me and I was startled by the complete lack of disregard for littering. Garbage cans are everywhere. And I bet you’d have a problem with someone tossing that bag onto your front lawn. (if I had any athletic ability at all I would’ve picked up that bag and flung it right back in his window,,,,, but I throw like a girl)

Yesterday I went to the bank, arriving at the doors at the same time as a middle aged man. I stepped aside to let him open the door first, which he did, then he walked through leaving the door to close in my face. He repeated this with the vestibule door knowing full well I was behind him both times. (where were you raised,,,in a barn?) This encounter didn’t leave me angry, just disappointed.

At a dinner party recently I was recounting a story when suddenly one of the guests interrupted me to read an email they’d just received recapping the score of a hockey game. Needless to say the conversation was lost and I felt foolish (could it be I’m not as interesting as I think I am?) This one angered me. How rude.

Often the lack of manners is due to distraction. (It’s hard to see the person behind you when you’re eyes are glued to your hand held device). Too often though, it’s just ignorance. We learn what we live and if we don’t practice the basics of common courtesy at home, how could we be expected to demonstrate them in public? Is this a symptom of a society that no longer cares about manners or are we so caught up in our own distractions that we just don’t see that we’re turning into boors? Neither is an acceptable excuse and the only hope we have is that those of us still aware of etiquette practice it religiously.

I will continue to hold doors for others. I won’t interrupt you when you speak because I know how insignificant that would make you feel. I will stoop to pick up something another has dropped, just to be nice and because it costs me nothing, and here’s the kicker, I’ll even do it with a smile. Who knows, maybe it’ll catch on.

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